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Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Egypt mounts full-court press on GERD ahead of weekend African Union summit

Egypt is pushing hard to shore up support for its position on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam ahead of this weekend’s annual African Union summit, which will see Congo take over the rotating presidency. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry have led the push over the past two days with both in-person and telephone meetings with world leaders.

How it’s going down: El Sisi met with Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi in Cairo yesterday and agreed to “ramp up consultations” on the dam. Egypt is still committed to reaching a binding

s agreement on the dam, El Sisi said in a presser after the meeting. El Sisi also spoke with outgoing AU head and current South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, while Shoukry chewed the issue over with Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo and Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva in individual phone calls.

Congo being a Nile Basin country could work in Egypt’s favor as the AU continues to mediate the dispute, former Assistant Foreign Minister Mohamed Hegazy told Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan (watch, runtime: 3:20). Pundit Heba Al Bashbishi took the speculation one step further, telling Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa that Ethiopia could be at risk of having its AU membership suspended if it fails to cooperate in the negotiations (watch, runtime: 18:52)

Meanwhile, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas warned Addis Ababa against moving ahead with the planned second phase of filling the dam’s reservoir without an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum, saying the move threatens the safety of roughly half of Sudanese citizens living on the banks of the Blue Nile.

FACTOID OF THE DAY: Egypt could lose 130k hectares of cultivated land and miss out on agricultural production worth USD 430 mn with every 1 bcm of water Addis Ababa uses to unilaterally fill its reservoir, the Egyptian embassy in USA says. This also translates into the elimination of some 290k incomes.

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